Soprano as Fetish

Professional Singers in Early Modern Italy

Susan McClary in her article elaborates the origins of the soprano cult. Her starting point is the court music of Alfonso d’Este in Ferrara. The written and musical documents of the age prove that the first female virtuoso soprano concerts were held by three professional singers of the court. The madrigals were written exclusively for them by Luzzasco Luzzaschi among others. McClary explores that the concerti delle donne were the prototypes of the modern virtuoso vocal performances in the history of musical performance practice. The music in the court of Ferrara had an extraordinary influence: the soprano voice became a musical fetish. It appears on one hand in the early instrumental music, especially in the case of the violin. On the other hand it establishes an operatic phenomenon in the form of the castrato singer. McClary analyses some works of Luzzaschi, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Gabrieli among others. Th e main aim of the article is to show the origins of the soprano fetish from the music of Ferrara and Monteverdi’s works through Mozart’s operas until the contemporary popmusic.

Released: Replika 77, 151–174.
Replika block:
Tibor Pintér